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Critical mass (courtesy Zachary T Algren via

EDC = Every Day Carry gun. That’s the firearm you depend on for stopping an imminent threat of death or grievous bodily harm, when imminence in imminent. What you feed it may not be a matter of life or death, but it might. Which is why most people who carry a gun are plenty picky about their carry ammo. One theory: carry what cops carry. Our man Mass recommends HST, Golden Saber, Gold Dot and Winchester Ranger. I carry Critical Defense. What’s in YOUR EDC? And how did you decide on that round?

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  1. Critical Carry by Hornady .. period.
    .45 ACP or 380 depending on what I am wearing
    Robert Seddon

  2. On the results of the testing by ShootingTheBull410 on 3″ 9mm Pocket pistols I carry Federal HST 124gr 9mm.

    • ^ This x 100

      Shooting the Bull 410 is an excellent resource and was my first step in deciding what I should be running through my barrel. After that I took the plunge and actually fed my EDC enough Federal HST to know it works well.

    • I have 147grain Federal Premium in the Glock 19 and the wife carries Federal HST +P 124grain in her Nano.
      No reason other than we bought our guns in 2012 at the peak of the shortage and that is all we could find. I think the 124 +P is perfect for her Nano that is built to handle .40 S&W.

    • Same here. In full hipster fashion I was carrying HST for a couple years before STB410 did his videos, but I was very happy to see the choice fully validated. It is THE best ammo on the market, hands down. Originally I carried 124 grn +P but when I eventually found 147 grn in stock I made the switch. I’ve been carrying 147 grain standard pressure in my Nano for like 18 months now. I do continue to carry 124 grn in my HK P7, because that gun hates feeding 147 grain ammo.

      In .380 I did actually make a change based on all of the testing STB did. I used to carry FMJ because I did not believe HPs offered sufficient penetration. He showed that a few brands of HPs are capable of meeting proper specs for minimum penetration without overpenetrating, so I switched to one of the recommended brands. That was before the Lehigh Defense video, though, and this is pretty unquestionably the BEST choice for .380 carry. However, it’s really expensive and I hardly ever carry my .380, so I’m sticking with the HP I already purchased until I run through it all.

      RE what Farago is carrying, I’d go Critical Duty if HST wasn’t a consistently better performer (which it is), but would not carry Critical Defense. In the vast majority of ballistics testing it consistently underpenetrates. It was not designed to meet FBI specs at all, whereas Critical Duty was later made with that goal in mind. Duty penetrates properly but doesn’t expand very much. HST penetrates properly and expands like crazy.

    • Same here. Was carrying gold dots, but after seeing what they did out of a 3″ barrel (penetrated through two gel blocks- over 24″) I switched to the HST’s.

    • Same here. I figured if it was that good out of the 3″ barrels, it would be slightly better out of the 3.5″ barrel on my Sig 239 and 3.9″ on my P229.

      And as a videographer, I find ShootingTheBull410’s videos to be very well done… informative but never dry.

    • Thanks to ShootingTheBull410 and TNOutdoors9, I choose 124gr HST in 9mm and 165 gr HST in .40 S&W.

      It goes bang, it expands, it penetrates 12-18″, and it does it every time.

  3. I carry a 9×18 Mak-caliber pocket-sized pistol. It’s loaded with FMJ so I can be sure to get enough penetration.

    • Don’t feel too lonely, I carry 9×18 Mak also. Buffalo Bore 95gr XTP in mine though, because that’s what I could find locally. I’m thinking about Hornady Custom if I can find some, I think it did well in STB410’s tests in 9mm and .380, so it should be decent in the CZ and FEG I carry.

  4. 135g Critical Duty for my Hi Power.
    230 grain Golden Sabre for my 1911
    124g +p PDX1 Defender for my Nano

  5. 9mm: Critical Defense alternating with CorBon
    .380: Zombie Max with two rounds of FMJ in the magazine if needed
    .357 mag: Critical Defense. I’ve found they’re short enough to load with a speedloader and the cases don’t expand, so always eject cleanly.

      • I like variety!

        For .380, penetration is a concern, so I put the FMJs in if the JHPs don’t seem to be working. The 9mm CorBon rounds supposedly pack more energy and the Hornady rounds supposedly penetrate better through clothing. Basically, I’ve watched too many ammo tests.

        • I’d go all one way or the other. If you are mixing ammo in a semi-auto, you’re just introducing one more thing that can go wrong.

          The solution is don’t carry a .380.

          Just… don’t. If you need more upgrade to a pocket 9, low profile .45, etc, etc…

          I can use a hammer to pound in a screw. That doesn’t make the hammer the best tool for that job. A .380 is better than nothing, and it’s a great backup. I wouldn’t want to bet my life on one in a real fight.

  6. Most of the time:
    Kahr CW9, 9mm 115 gr FTX Critical Defense, one spare mag.

    Some of the time:
    Glock 23, 40 S&W 165 gr FTX Critical Defense, one spare mag.

    “Backup” most of the time:
    NAA Earl 3″, 22 WMR 45 gr FTX Critical Defense

    “Backup” some of the time:
    S&W 642, 38 Special +P 110 gr FTX Critical Defense

    I decided on these rounds because it was available at the store in all the calibers I wanted. I bought a box of each and tested it in each caliber in the firearms I was using. No failures, so I bought more of each. I’m not very picky about premium defense ammo. If it has a good track record and it runs then I feel comfortable carrying it.

  7. Critical defense and/or Federal Hydra Shok, .380.
    Good news on Hydra Shoks is that I’ve been able to find reasonable pricing on 50 round law enforcement boxes, and decent pricing on Critical Defense, so I can practice with what I carry.

      • Sorry Sean, it was a while ago and I don’t remember what I paid, and can’t find the receipt. I know I saw it on gunbot. My only regret was I only bought 4 boxes, should’ve bought more.

      • You can pick up hydrashok for about $30 per 50. You can find XTP loads (another good choice) from various manufacturers for a little less. ammunitiondepot currently has hydrashok for $36/50. A little high, but not a terrible price.

  8. When I had a 40 it was 165gr Gold Dots based on a tnoutdoors9 video, it definitely did the most damage out of the three Gold Dot weights offered in 40. The stated muzzle energy from Speer is really impressive too. When I moved up to 45 I bought a small box of 230gr gold dots but my 1911 didnt like to feed the first round from a full mag of the Gold Dots (it definitely prefers stuff that very closely follows the profile of 230gr ball) and since this is my HD weapon and stays in the bedside table in condition 3, that was a non starter. So I switched to the 230gr HST based on another tnoutdoors9 video, go watch it if you haven’t it will make you an HST believer (that is of course if shootingthebull410 hasnt already). The things look like a miniature buzz saw blade. I shot a few into wetpack myself and nearly sliced my fingers up pulling them out. I know we learned very well from medical examiner testimony in the whole Black Talon saga that there isn’t that much added effect in cutting compared to standard lead mushroom, but man those things look evil.

  9. Golden sabre in 9 and 45, when i go .357 mag i stick to any 158gr bullet i can get my hands on, saving my half box of federal 158gr hollowpoints for carry usually.

    Sarc/ But of course thats all b.s. because the s.b.r. is the only gun youll ever need. So im loaded up with 7mags of m855 to handle every threat or clearing my house /sarc

  10. .45ACP, Corbon DPX. I think the copper round will expand better, and the +P load and slightly lighter projectile will give me decent penetration.

  11. I took the approach Mas outlined when making my choices.

    I prefer HST, and that is loaded in my 9mm and .40 currently.

    Could not find any in .45 or .380 last time I stocked up on carry ammo. Running Barnes TAC-XPD and Speer Gold Dot respectively in those.

  12. .38 Special rounds from a defunct Oregon company . When I use up my supply practicing, I’ll have to find something else.

    I go with .38 Special because it was good enough for police for decades, so I figure it’s good enough for me.

  13. Winchester 180-grain Ranger Talons.
    ‘Cause they’re just like the Black Talons (sans the fancy Lubalox coating of course), and they make gun-grabbers shit the bed.


    Underwood Ammo 155-grain Speer Gold Dot.
    ‘Cause… Gold Dot! And 1,300 FPS!

  14. .357 Magnum Hornady Critical Defense 125 gr. Reputation and they are comfortable shooting out of a Ruger SP101 with 2.25 inch barrel.

  15. I use Golden saber in most of my EDCs and have no complaints though I’ve only(& hopefully ever will) used them for practice/function.

    My 1911 is the odd bird, I got a great deal on some Taurus Hex and keep her stuffed with that but I’ll need to find a new daily round once my supply dwindles further. I’ve had great luck with the round and can’t even begin to guess why they stopped making it.

  16. Critical Defense. They work and the name won’t set a prosecutor’s hair on fire. I just wish Hornady made a round called “Fluffy Bunny.”

      • Sure, if PETA can rename fish as “sea kittens,” then POTG should do a similar campaign.

        PETA – Save the Sea Kittens!


        A few suggests, off the top of the head:

        Old name: firearms
        New name: life savers

        Old name: bullets
        New name: flying munchkins (would need to work out trademark with Dunkin’ Donuts)

        Old name: assault rifle
        New name: go-go stick

        Old name: silencer
        New name: shusher (Annoyed Librarian should go for that!)

        Old name: shotgun
        New name: marble launcher

    • Fluffy Bunny R.I.P.? “For when that damn rabbit won’t stay dead…”

      Guess you can tell the Walking Dead season premier was last night…

    • Hornady “Fluffy bunny.” A 500 grain .50 cal bullet going 3000fps. They should chamber the next LCP in the new “fluffy bunny” round.

  17. Weekdays = Concealed = TCP w/fiocchi’s loading of hornady xtp in a uncle george’s pocket holster (prints like a jumbo wallet)
    Weekends = Open carry = M57 Tokarev with locally produced soft points in a custom pancake holster, going to upgrade the loading to 32 cal XTPs when I get comfortable with my handloads

  18. Winchester Black Talon and Ranger 9mm in my CZ P07 Duty. Think they’re 147g. Army tracer 2nd last round so I click I have a mag change coming.

    • Probably not a good idea to empty your mag too close to a gas pump then… just sayin’.

      Then again, apply a little gasoline to the perp, and if you’re not too close you’ll definitely know it when the tracer hits.

  19. Usually whatever I got laying around. They all hurt, I’m sure.

    I found a box of Gold Dot hollow points that I had forgotten about. They’re in my Bersa now.

    • Same feeling as finding a twenty dollar bill in an old coat pocket. It’s like new all over again.

  20. All of my SD ammo that I carry now in any handgun, any caliber, is HST. Right now, I am carrying 9mm 124 gr standard pressure, but I also have the 147 gr standard pressure that I carry in my full size pistols.

  21. 124 +P Gold Dots in my XDS 3.3. I bought a bunch and carried in a larger gun, and haven’t been able to find anything else good! Ideally Critical Defense 115s. If I were carrying the PT1911 it would have 230gr Golden Sabers.

  22. 11 rounds of Critical Defense 9mm.
    Buying ammo online in Illinois is a pain, so I buy what’s on the shelf.

  23. I used to swear by Winchester PDx1 9mm 124gr +P in my full size M&P.
    When I started carrying a M&P Shield I went with Hornady Critical Defense 9mm 115 grain.
    Now I’m highly considering switching to Hornady Critical Duty for my Full Size.

  24. 230g Golden Saber in the 45’s.

    124g Gold Dot in 9mm.

    Both types went 200 rounds in each pistol, with outstanding reliability and accuracy. Especially the Gold Dot.

    I’m still debating changing caliber for winter carry in Colorado. Not sure it’s worth it to change to 1911 or P227 with reduced round count for better penetration through heavy winter wear.

    Any opinions?

  25. Gold Dot 124+P for G-19. Spare mag is Liberty CD cause they weigh nothing.
    A stacked solution for the Taurus 940: 1 Liberty CD, 2 Pow’rBall 135’s, the rest Critical Defense

  26. Double Tap 158gr. hollow points in .357 magnum. Because if you’re going to limit yourself to 6 rounds they should hit hard and they’re cheaper than Buffalo Bore. I should be getting close to 600lb/ft. at the muzzle out of my 3″ GP (I’m assuming they’re not quite as hot as DT claims, but they are definitely hot).

    In the Beretta 92 I keep Gold Dot 124gr.+p and my wife’s Storm subcompact is loaded with the 115gr. Gold Dots. I like the lighter bullet in the short barrel of the Storm because I think it’s more likely to expand reliably and my wife doesn’t need the extra recoil. I’ll revise my opinions when shootingthebull gets done with his tests.

    On the revolver I want the heavier bullet because expansion shouldn’t be a problem with the full pressure loads and there’s less muzzle flash than with the 125gr. Probably a touch quieter too. I’m not at all impressed with the .357 Gold Dots. If you look at their own info they don’t expand reliably out of shorter barrels and I’ve seen some tests that had them well under advertised velocities. They’re a good round in 9mm though.

  27. Agree with many others here:

    1911 in 45 Auto, Hornady Critical Defense when it’s cooler outside
    S&W Shield in 9×19, Hornady Critical Defense when it’s warmer outside

    Why? It feeds reliably, gives good expansion, and won’t clog up on clothes easily. (At least per the test videos. After all, they can’t put anything on the internet that isn’t true.)

  28. I carry Winchester PDX1 because my LGS/CHL instructor recommended it and it works great in my Springfield XD40 SC.

  29. I use G2 RIP in 9mm.

    Just kidding, I used to use 147gr Ranger T until I saw some Shootingthebull. Now I use 147gr HST in my CZ PCR and 124gr HST in my XDS

  30. Let me check pockets:

    -roll of tape (pvc or vinyl tape)
    -headphones (would make a good garotte)
    -the leather bag/pouch the headphones are in
    -keys with that long necklace thing so you can keep them around your neck (another garotte), I just have it so that the keys have sufficent bulk to not be lost.

    So, if I get behind the guy things should go well.

  31. I carry Critical Defense in 9X18 Mak in my CZ-82 because it’s either that or Russian junk or FMJ. Few choices. Mostly bad.

  32. My EDC varies a bit depending on what I’m doing. If I’m working the day here on the farm I carry my S&W Model 58 and I fill it with some hand loaded 210gr SWC (Keith bullets) on top of Unique, Blue Dot or 2400–my HOT loads. For carrying outside the house and farm I have my customized Remington 1911R1 Enhanced with 230gr Golden Sabre’s, or 185gr CorBon +P’s. My model S&W Model 19 2.5″ either has hand load SWC’s for on the farm or Remington 125gr JHP’s (it likes the cheaper factory hollow point ammo from Remington’s plant here in Arkansas)!
    I switch my EDC based on the situation. I carry my recently acquired 1974 mfg Ruger Mark I 5.5″ bull barrel in my truck ALL the time now regardless of whatever else I have. It’s deadly accurate and reliable as as can be….although I don’t condone a .22 as an EDC, it will do the job in a pinch.

    • When we first deployed, we loaded tracers into the bottom of our magazines so we would know when we were running low. It made us feel all hard core like we knew what we were doing. We were bad@zz!

      Then we stopped doing that, because it was stupid.

      We would load an entire magazine of tracers, because sometimes you need to shoot a car, etc. and they have stuff inside them like upholstery and gasoline that burns really good. But it was all ball or all tracer. Because mixing ammo = bad. If you want a great way to destroy accuracy, mix ammo,

      I know that I’m asking for a schooling on how it’s the same weight projectile, with the same propellant charge, blah didty blah ditty blah. I don’t care. It will shoot differently – don’t do it.

      You carry a firearm to defend your life. Your ability to do that depends on it functioning EXACTLY THE SAME with every shot. Don’t introduce variables.

  33. When I was a LEO, I carried Federal Hydra Shok in 230gr 45 ACP goodness in a Sig P220. Now that I am no longer in service, I carry a mix of 124gr HST and Hydra Shok in both my CZ P-07(EDC) and Sig P320(night stand).

  34. My every day carry is a Smith and Wesson M&P40 semi-auto pistol (full size) loaded with Winchester Ranger 180 grain hollowpoints.

    (1) I chose my every day carry configuration for modest defensive capability at ranges up to 50 yards/meters.
    (2) I chose Ranger 180 grainers for their hollowpoint performance and ability to penetrate thick tempered glass at oblique angles without deflecting.
    (3) The bullets that Winchester loads in their Ranger 180 grain hollowpoint rounds appear to be the exact same bullets that Winchester loads in their PDX1 premium self-defense ammunition … at something like half the cost … although Ranger cartridges do not have nickel plated brass casings like the PDX1 line.

  35. Hornady Critical Duty 175 grain .

    Reason I choose it is because of the rubber plug that give it just >< that much more chance to actually expand in a target should I have to defend myself.

  36. Critical Duty 135gr 9mm

    Reason: Only thing I could get during the ammo shortage. I do plan to switch to HST or Gold Dots in the next year or so.

  37. As long as it’s a modern hollow point with reasonable bullet weight and velocity, I really don’t care too much. That said in 9mm it’s usually hornady critical duty 135 grain standard pressure because that’s what I know works in my glocks. My training is more likely to save my life than a magic bullet. My revolvers aren’t too picky.

  38. Well based on STB410’s advice (since I couldn’t find Horny Custom, Fiocchi Extrema, Precision One, or strangely enough Federal Hydra-Shock) I carry HPR Hyper clean .380 ACP in my Bersa Thunder 380.

  39. Winchester T & D 38 special JHP for Ruger LCR .38 pocket carry in holster with 5 rd. 5 Star spreed loader in another pocket. Keys/mace on ring in left pocket.

    Have other pistols & revolvers but the LCR has very good sights and smooth trigger pull, it likely to always be EDC. Practice once a month with 10 rounds.
    Just a stow & go snub nose revolver,

  40. Springfield Armory XDs .45 …..230gn fmj….that bullet worked well in Nam and the XDs is comfortable to carry.

    • But in Nam if the round was a through and through and it hit another VC/NVA you got bonus points. Back home it gets you a manslaughter charge for killing a collateral.

  41. Winchester RA40T 180 grain JHP. I’ve got tons of it, and HST was harder to come by. If HST shoots to the same POI as all my practice ammo, and I can get a ton of it, I’ll switch to that.

  42. Corbon DPX in my shield and 147g HSTs in my full size M&P. I don’t like critical defense, it’s not rated for barrier penetration.

  43. Shoot the one that is the most reliable and accurate in your gun. I bought a couple of 50 round boxes of Federal HST, Winchester Ranger T and Speer Gold Dots. Shot 50 rounds of each and found them to all function reliably and to be comparably accurate. So I am happy to carry any of those rounds. I’m old enough to remember when Hydra-Shoks were introduced, but I believe they have been surpassed by the newer bullets now available.

  44. Federal Hydra-Shok. Proven man-stopper (per Massad Ayoob at least).

    And FYI anyone carrying FMJ in any carry gun is running the risk of ricochet and shoot-through, much less missing out on a far better man-stopping result.

    • You should give Federal HST a shot then. It is an improved version of hydrashok. I think there are better bullet technologies out there now a days, although I still have 4-5 boxes of hydrashok for a rainy day. I prefer Gold Dots now a days.

    • I was shooting in my back yard and I noticed something shining in a tree about 2′ above ground. It was a 115 grain FMJ bullet embedded backwards about a half inch deep. I pried it out and except for the rifling marks, was in pristine shape. I don’t know if it penetrated a 2×4 before tumbling into the tree or if it ricocheted off the ground. I was shooting targets on the board and on the ground.

  45. .45 Fed Hydra-Shok 165gr in Officer’s Model Colt, 230gr in Gov’t Model. Bedside S&W 66 filled with 129gr Hydra-Shok .38+P.

  46. Norinco 1911 with DRT .45 acp 150gr hp
    Taurus model 85 ultra lite 38 spl. with Winchester +p 125 grain hp

  47. My main carry gun holds Speer Gold Dot 9mm 124 gr +Ps. I liked their terminal performance in the STB410 video on them and I found a smoking deal on 50 round boxes. The great reputation that Gold Dots have doesn’t hurt either.

  48. 220 gr Critical Duty .45 +P in my FNX and 135 gr Critical Duty 9mm +P in my P99 but I’m really wanting to get my hands on some Federal HST…

  49. Corbon 9mm 115 gr. +P DPX.

    That DPX does disgusting things to gel when it hits it, and the penetration is awesome.

    I keep boxes of 127 gr. +p+ rangers and some 124 gr. +p gold dots as well, but my rifles and defensive handguns run the heaviest DPX round I can buy.

  50. 10mm with 180gr XTPs at 1340fps from a 5″ barrel. My mornings are spent walking in the wilder parts of the Black Elk Wilderness, and I don’t swap pistols when back in town.

  51. 9mm–liberty defense. .40cal-corbon dpx. Both run well out of my guns. Main reason is ballistics, they stick in what they hit. No worry about a through and through and hitting someone other than the intended target
    Also enjoy the fact they are lighter!

  52. 12+1 of .45 critical duty +p and another mag of 12
    In the lcp I have critical defense that was pulled and loaded to max .380 pressure.

  53. HST 230 and 147
    Shooting the bull and every test I could find HST appears to work on gel
    Fiocchi 158 XTP 357
    Winchester 158 lead wad cutter hollow point 38+P
    Garrett 310 and Hornady 300 XTP 44

    Any real world results available for any of the modern SD ammo no matter what brand or flavor?

  54. Hornady Critical “Duty” too often confused with “Defense.” I just feel the weight of 135gr is an ideal compromise between the lighter 95gr HV and the “slower” 147gr heavier 9mm bullet. Also I like the design of the “flextip” precisely because it provides for the very same effect of a true hollow point bullet absent the chance of either 1) FTF or 2) matter such as clothing clogging up the HP preventing expansion.

  55. i’d have to go downstairs and look at the box. they have red tips. hornady something. critical, maybe.

  56. Hornady Critical “Duty” too often confused with “Defense.”
    There are apples and oranges with all brands, bullet design and calibers

    Any real world results available for any of the modern SD ammo no matter what brand or flavor?

  57. Hornady Critical Defense, 40 S&W 165 gr…because it has a good reputation for reliable expansion and won’t “clog” like many hollow points.

  58. Hydra Shok 9mm in my Glock 19, and Hydra Shok .45 in my Springfield XD 3.8, and Hornady Critical Defense for my .357 Ruger LCR.

  59. Lehigh Defense 38 Special +P 140gr Xtreme Penetrator in my S&W 38 Special +P Bodyguard
    Lehigh Defense 380 Auto 90gr Xtreme Penetrator in my 380 Glock 42.

  60. Critical Duty 9mm 135gr. Because capacity. Nowadays, when ammo technology means 9/40/45 are pretty much the same ballistically, larger caliber doesn’t mean shit.

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